Freedom of expression online in Saudi Arabia from a liberal, individualistic and a collectivistic perspective

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Abstract

This paper aims to explore freedom of expression on the Saudi internet from both a Western philosophical perspective and a Saudi Arabian cultural perspective. Specifically, the paper will explore the applicability of the Millian account of freedom of expression to the Saudi context and then present an argument from an Islamic collectivistic perspective in defence of restricting some kinds of speech online. We will argue that while Mill's views on freedom of expression may not apply to the Saudi context because of the importance Mill places on individualism and the importance the Saudi culture places on collectivism, Mill's harm principle was found to be a useful criterion for justifying restrictions on freedom of expression. To provide context, the paper will discuss the factors that could be responsible for limiting freedom of expression online in Saudi Arabia and some of the groups of people who are especially affected by the limitations on freedom of expression on the internet. The basis of this discussion will be findings obtained from several studies conducted by the first author between 2006 and 2009. Towards the end, the paper will attempt to couch the discussion about the harm principle in terms of the Saudi culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
JournalEthical Space: the international journal of communication ethics
Volume8
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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